Sunday, January 20, 2008
The "public editor" of the New York Times, Clark Hoyt, remains as ever unwilling to challenge the paper's editorial leadership on questions that matter. Today's column is devoted to defending Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse from charges from a conservative blogger that she has a conflict of interest when her husband -- a lawyer -- writes briefs filed in cases before the court. He basically concludes -- and any blogger would agree -- that the Times should be more transparent in disclosing conflicts or apparent conflicts. For my money, the whole column is a waste of ink -- speaking as a blogger who finds something to criticize in the New York Times virtually every day, I have long thought that Greenhouse does a better job of writing neutrally than the vast majority of the paper's news reporters.
The real question, of course, is why Hoyt spent his week defending Greenhouse against a cranky blogger instead of explaining why it was that the Times decided to devote its front page to discussing murder rates among American veterans without acknowledging that they are lower than for American civilians. Apparently we need another public editor to explain why the first one spends himself on trivia and the arcania of conflict policy instead of examining a front page story with statistical "reasoning" so unbelievably fraudulent it is hard to believe that it was not intentional.
Oops, I munged the link above to the venerable Baltimore Sun. Too bad there is no way to edit a comment!
Even though the NY Times is allegedly the "newspaper of record" for much of what happens in the US and the world, it does, in fact, have a very parochial East Coast Establishment air about much of its content and format. The incestuous relationship between the newsgatherers and editors of the Times, other media people with the networks, academics, politicians, the rich and influential, etc.
These people all know each other and socialize together. Nothing that happens on the surface, that we plebes outside of that cloister perceive by 'reading the Times' is what it seems.
"All the news that fits our Narrative"
No wonder that even Brad DeLong (a westerner in California, I believe) is also somewhat offended by it.
Time Marches On!
"The incestuous relationship between the newsgatherers and editors of the Times, other media people with the networks, academics, politicians, the rich and influential, etc."
One example: Clifton Daniel was managing editor of the New York Times. He also was the husband of Harry S. Truman's daughter, Margaret.
First--Indespensible is right on: most "public editors" these days are neither leftie or rightie. They are puppets for the douchebag institutional investors who own the paper.
Second--"charges from a conservative blogger" these days are more akin to getting a bad zit or a swollen 'roid. When will you guys cease the hatchet jobs (didn't seem to work this time against McCain, did it? Sorry Swifties and the pro-stars n' bars crowd) and focus purely of creative, constructive SOLUTIONS to problems and issues of concern? Perhaps that's why McCain's suddenly the frontrunner and a clown like John Edwards could potentially knock out Hillary by endorsing Obama. There is a huge bump of folks in the middle who are getting sick of this crap.
From the American Heritage Dictionary:
"Word History: The word ombudsman has one familiar element, man, but it is difficult to think of what ombuds could mean. Ombudsman is from Swedish, a Germanic language in the same family as English, and man in Swedish corresponds to our word man. Ombud means "commissioner, agent," coming from Old Norse umbodh, "charge, commission, administration by a delegacy," umbodh being made up of um, "regarding," and bodh, "command." In Old Norse an umbodhsmadhr was a "trusty manager, commissary." In Swedish an ombudsman was a deputy who looked after the interests and legal affairs of a group such as a trade union or business. In 1809 the office of riksdagens justitieombudsman was created to act as an agent of justice, that is, to see after the interests of justice in affairs between the government and its citizens. This office of ombudsman and the word ombudsman have been adopted elsewhere, as in individual states in the United States. The term has also been expanded in sense to include people who perform the same function for business corporations or newspapers."
Hoyt is a Public Relations Editor, a "trusty manager" of public criticism.
What I would really, really, really like to know is who actually writes the NYTimes editorials. I suspect it's probably an open secret among folks in the industry, and I'm wondering how to find out whose appalling political judgment we're being treated to week after week.
Some front runner. Without the Thompson push in SC, McCain would have lost to Huckabee, so yes, I suppose you could thank conservatives for that. The realnews from SC, however, is that McCain's electability quotient is not what it's cracked up to be.
Come on, people. Let's not get stuck on stupid. The question isn't whether returning combat vets have the same or different homicide rate than the general population of their same demograpic cohort.
That's because, people, the military is an elite slice of the general population with, no doubt, a built-in lower crime rate.
The question is whether waging war has a brutalizing effect on warriors, hence higher homicide rates post-bellum.
Anyone out there ready to say it doesn't?
Good grief. Even if we don't have the stats - remember, the God-damned statistics, mentioning the Lord's name advisedly - we know that war does have a brutalizing effect on warriors. If we've read anything, thought anything, or experienced it.
That, by the way, is not an anti-war sentiment. It's just being honest. Let's take a clear-eyed view of the toll paid by bravce soldiers who fight our wars.
Even if the homicide rate of returning combat vets is lower than the general population, that doesn't show that waging war didn't have a deleterious effect on them. Do returning combat vets have higher homicide rates than non-combat vets? I don't know but I bet a buck they do.
So let's do more to help returning combat vets deal with the horror of war and stop trying to score cheap partisan points off their backs.
Anon 6:30 - I think it is obvious that combat has an effect, often "deleterious." I acknowledged as much in my original post on the Times article, when I wrote: Struggling to be fair, the Times does make the point that the homicide rate among active duty and new veterans since 2001 is higher than it was for the same groups (recognizing that they are different people) in the six years prior to 2001, which corresponds to a period when the homicide rate in the United States was declining. In effect, if you take a couple of million young people, mostly men, and train them to kill and then subject them to extraordinary psychological and physical pressure on the other side of the world, make them confront one of the most vicious enemies the United States has ever fought, and force them to act with great restraint in the face of terrorism targeting women and children, their propensity to commit violence in other contexts will go up, but still be less than for American civilians of the same age.
That point, though, might have been accompanied by an acknowledgement that notwithstanding those extraordinary pressures, the homicide rate for veterans was lower than for the general civvy population of the same age.
In addition, your claim that the military is an "elite slice" of the population is not something that is ever acknowledged by the Times. Indeed, in their attempt to show that the military has been "broken" by the Iraq war, they have often claimed that the Army (in particular) is having to lower standards and so forth. I think that the reaction to the story would have been entirely different if it has done as you did -- assert that (i) military recruits are an "elite slice", and (ii) even after the extraordinary pressures of combat they are less prone to violence than the average American of their age. That, however, would have reduced the article to a point that everybody knows -- that combat changes people, sometimes for the worse.
You are seeing things that aren't there in the NYTimes piece.
They don't imply all soldiers are bad, etc.
Your position is basically carping that the article didn't address all the issues you think important. It's just a look - fairly comprehensive involving lots of reporting - on a bunch of returning vets who got into trouble, related to their war waging.
Your position is like complaining about an article on exotic dancers-cum=prostitutes that doesn 't talk about all the girls who go to convent school and turn out spotless and pure.
And I'm NOT comparing our brave soldiers to whores. Just pointing out that there is legitimate criticism of the MSM and especially the NYTimes, and there is useless carping that is a waste of breath. Yours is the latter.
The piece in question is good reporting and alerts us to start thinking about trying to help out our brave warriors more. It doesn't say anything, including anyting bad, about our warriors in general.
Concentrate on the many real sins of the NYTimes and give them credit when they do something well.
By the way, why not start comparing how much news hole they've given to heroic actions by our soldiers versus problems and bad actions? THAT would be something.
Not only is he simple, but Hoyt writes poorly.
But what's worse about Hoyt is that he seems to have redefined his public editor role as instead the "public defender" of the NYT. Maybe, though, this sort of morphing of the role was predictable: perhaps he thinks that sort of change might allow him to survive longer in his job than his predecessors, or at least walk through the newsroom without staplers being thrown at him.
Remember- Don't buy the NYT! (Only read it on-line)